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Sounds of Buffalo: Janice Mitchell and the Jim Beishline Trio

In the 80’s Janice spent 5 years touring the world. 9 months at a time, with Ray Charles as a Raelette (lead image).  She sang backup vocals on his recordings of ‘America’ and also on his Christmas album. In 1995 she decided to move back to the Buffalo area to be with her family.  This is when she met her new partner in life and in music, Jim Beishline and began working with the Jim Beishline Trio.  They enjoy playing around Buffalo as a quartet and also as a duo.  Their joint efforts earned them the title of Best Small Jazz Band, awarded by Buffalo Music Awards 2000. She has also been inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
List your band members and the instruments that they play.

Janice Mitchell: vocals (interviewee)
Jim Beishline: piano
Jerry Livingston: bass
Darryl Washington: drums

When and how did your group form?

Janice: The way we got together was fate. Jim and I had never met, and he called me to do a gig with him and his trio back in the nineties. That was when we discovered that our styles complemented each other. So he started arranging more and more songs for me and calling me whenever he needed a vocalist on a job. Eventually we teamed up and became a unit.

Where are you from originally?

Janice: Buffalo, N.Y

Is your family musical?

Janice: Not in a professional sense, but my sisters and I sang a lot together growing up and I consider them to be quite talented. Also, my late husband’s uncle was the world renowned bassist, Red Mitchell. My husband, Brian, was Ray Charles’s lead alto player.

550220_446768895358534_1801478592_nAre you schooled in music? From where?Janice: Stevie Wonder (sang backup for him) sent me to his own voice coach, Seth Riggs, in Los Angeles. Nancy Kelly also coached me for a while after I returned to this area.

I think I can accurately say that I’m “self home-schooled”, since I have a thorough understanding of music theory from reading books, and I also play a little piano.

Which famous musicians do you admire?

Janice: Ella, Judith Hill, Rachelle Farrell, Dianne Reeves, Sayesha Mercado, Lalah Hathaway, Kurt Elling,

Where is your favorite place to sing in Buffalo?

Janice: The Tralf

How would you describe your music style? Influences?

Janice: Jazz seasoned with gospellish blues.

photoHow often and for how long do you practice?Janice: Nowadays my practice is more sporadic and less formal than in the past. I aim at keeping my keeping my voice warm and sing and play with whichever song it is that my guides send to interact with me for the day.

Where do you practice?

Janice: Wherever I am when I’m alone. . . usually at home, but also in the car while driving

Do you sing covers?

Janice: Yes

Do you play/sing original music? If so, who writes the music and the lyrics?

Janice: Jim and I are collaborating on original material for a CD in the planning.  I’m responsible mostly for the lyrics, and Jim handles the music.  We are not performing it live until after we release the project.
284470_2252770635704_437851_nIf you could sing for one famous person, who would that be?

Janice: No one. I’d rather listen to them than perform for them. But I think it would be fun to do some vocally playful things with Bobby McFerrin.

What are your strengths?

Janice: I’m straight from the heart. My goal is a passionate and honest delivery in song. I think I achieve it.

Janice Mitchell performs For All We Know in honor of the Hall members who have passed away - Photo: Rimas Musteikis
Janice Mitchell performs For All We Know in honor of the Hall members who have passed away – Photo: Rimas Musteikis

What are your weaknesses?

Janice: The promotion/business end of things. I prefer to just sing.

Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?

Janice: No. I’m overdue for a CD of my own. I’ve sung on everyone else’s.

Where and when is your next gig?

Janice: Next gig is . . . .

Tuesday, May 28 | Milkie’s Elmwood | 7:00 – 10:00 pm – See Facebook
Wednesday June 5 | Pan American Grill and Brewery | The Lafayette Hotel | 6:30pm
Friday, July 5 | CoCo | 888 Main Street | 8:30 pm | Buffalo

Janice Mitchell – Facebook | Website

But the performance that I’m looking most forward to this summer is The Historic Lewiston Jazz Festival August 24 – 4:30pm to 6:30pm. We’ll be on the main stage.



If you play in a group/band (or solo) here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending buffalo rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene. The requirements are:

-You must be living in the Greater Buffalo region… or you must be plotting your return
-You must have a public show coming up in the city of Buffalo, as our focus is the urban landscape
-You must have a photo of the band
-Solo acts are also welcome
-Video is a plus
-CD/Album/poster art is welcome
-Links to Social Media sites are a bonus
-Ability to take accept both praise and/or criticism is a must
It is up to the discretion of Buffalo Rising whether or not to publish the interviews depending on nature of content submitted, or lack thereof. 
Please send requests here. Include “Sounds of Buffalo” in the subject box of the email.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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